Of course, most of us will have heard of the actor Mark Wahlberg. Not only has the A-lister enjoyed a decades-long career in Hollywood, he has also been a successful rapper, businessman and model to boot. The Boston native isn’t exactly shy on social media either – boasting nearly four million Twitter followers and over 15 million on Instagram. That said, there are still some surprising aspects to the star.
Wahlberg was actually the world’s highest-paid actor in 2017, according to Forbes. With a successful producing career and performances in smash hits including Ted, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Planet of the Apes, Wahlberg is Hollywood royalty. But in 2020 the actor talked about one element of his life that he is very open about. And some fans may be surprised to discover what that is.
In 2020 Wahlberg had a revealing interview with Today’s Harry Smith. In that wide-ranging discussion, the actor spoke about what he considered to be “the most important thing” in terms of his daily routine. And it wasn’t working out, despite the fact that Wahlberg is famously fit and has enjoyed a successful career as an underwear model.
According to Wahlberg, the aforementioned activity which means so much to him takes around 20 minutes out of his day. So what could it be that this Hollywood star dedicates more than a couple of hours to every week of his life?
We’ll return to what Wahlberg revealed a little later, but first let’s learn more about the actor himself. As mentioned earlier, he has enjoyed careers as a singer, songwriter, film and music producer. The actor is also a successful businessman, too. But, as we’ll soon find out, Wahlberg’s life has also been marked by some controversial behavior.
Born in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester in 1971, Wahlberg is the youngest of nine children. The star’s father Donald was a delivery driver, while his mother Alma was a bank clerk and nurse’s aide. Wahlberg’s ancestry, meanwhile, is Swedish and Irish on his father’s side and English on his mother’s.
However, Wahlberg had a difficult childhood. His parents formally separated in 1982 and the star later failed to graduate from the Roman Catholic Copley Square High School in Boston. Instead, the youngster fell into the wrong crowd and by the tender age of 13 was a drug addict.
Wahlberg’s youth was marked by bad behavior – including racially motivated attacks. In two instances in June 1986, the then teenager was part of a group who racially abused and attacked some school children. And in September of the same year civil action was settled over the incidents.
Then in April 1988 Wahlberg beat up a Vietnamese man on the street with a wooden stick and punched another individual of the same nationality later that same day. The actor subsequently pleaded guilty to felony assault and received a two-year jail sentence. However, he reportedly ended up spending just 45 days in prison.
Nearly 30 years later Wahlberg filed an official pardon petition with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He wrote, “I am deeply sorry for the actions that I took on the night of 8 April, 1988, as well as for any lasting damage that I may have caused the victims. Since that time, I have dedicated myself to becoming a better person and citizen so that I can be a role model to my children and others.”
In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, Wahlberg opened up about the problems that he’d had as a youngster. The star said, “I was always in trouble, and I was kind of little. In the circumstances where I was being preyed upon, at times, I had to protect and defend myself. It’s not an easy thing to navigate as a teenage kid who’s 5 foot 2 inches – [and] 120 pounds, with grown men.”
But even before getting into trouble with the law, Wahlberg had enjoyed a brief brush with fame. Interestingly, the actor was one of the original members of the music group New Kids on the Block. He is the younger brother of musician Donnie Wahlberg, and together the siblings were selected for the original line-up of the band.
However, the younger Wahlberg quit the lineup before the first New Kids on the Block album was released. His older brother found fame with the group, but for the former, stardom would come a little later. Nevertheless, with the help of his sibling, Wahlberg went on to record a number of hits with Terry Yancey, Hector Barros and Anthony Thomas as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.
Although Wahlberg’s music career wasn’t to last, the singer began using his by now muscular physique to help with other pursuits. In 1992 he started modeling underwear for Calvin Klein and starred in a number of magazine shoots for the likes of Vanity Fair. Wahlberg also released a fitness video under the name Marky Mark.
In 1993 Wahlberg starred in his first movie: a made-for-television production called The Substitute. It was after this appearance that he decided to drop the Marky Mark title for good, and the following year he won his first big-screen role. The actor secured a part in the Penny Marshall-directed Renaissance Man, this time appearing under his birth name alongside Danny DeVito.
Wahlberg has long been a huge fan of basketball – a passion he shares with his brother Donnie. And it was a role in 1995’s The Basketball Diaries that caught wider attention for Wahlberg’s acting abilities. His first leading role then followed a year later in the thriller Fear.
Perhaps the role that defined Wahlberg’s career in those early years was his star turn as the porn actor Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. Interestingly, it was a role that Wahlberg struggled to reconcile with as he got older. But from a career perspective, there is no doubt that it helped launch the Massachusetts native to stardom.
Wahlberg has since performed in and produced a number of notable hits. As well as action movies such as The Italian Job and The Perfect Storm, there have been the comedies in the vein of The Other Guys and, of course, the Ted movies. There have also been the huge sci-fi box office smashes – including the two Transformers films that Wahlberg has appeared in to date.
As well as the approval of cinemagoers, Wahlberg has also won critical acclaim for his acting. The star was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Departed. He also received a nomination from the latter awards ceremony for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his portrayal of boxer Micky Ward in 2011 movie The Fighter.
As well as all the movie credits as an actor, Wahlberg has produced a number of notable films, many of which he has starred in. And on the small screen, he has been executive producer on several shows. These include the hit series Entourage, which was loosely based on Wahlberg’s experiences in Hollywood.
As well as his music, movie and TV endeavors, Wahlberg has a number of notable businesses enterprises, too. For example, the actor is the co-owner of a chain of restaurants called Wahlburgers. He has also bought an interest in a Caribbean cricket team, invested in bottled water and even co-founded a company focused on sports nutrition. Furthermore, the actor has even bought car dealerships.
And the star is a philanthropist – having set up the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation in 2001. Another organization the actor is involved with is The Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children. Indeed, Wahlberg is clearly a man who is trying to give back to society in one way or another.
Wahlberg’s personal life has also been a success. In 2001 he met American model Rhea Durham, and the couple now have two girls and two boys together. Wahlberg and Durham tied the knot in a church ceremony in California in 2009.
It’s fair to say that Wahlberg managed to turn his life around quite spectacularly after those early brushes with the law. And as is his way, the actor has spoken honestly about the problems that he had. Wahlberg told The Guardian, “… Certainly, I made a lot of terrible mistakes and I paid for those mistakes dearly.”
Wahlberg further elaborated on the theme of changing his life. The actor continued, “I took it upon myself to own up to my mistakes and go against the grain and not be a part of the gang any more – to say that I was going to go and do my own thing. [However, this] made it ten times more difficult to walk from my home to the train station, to go to school, to go to work.”
But there is another element of Wahlberg’s life which he holds dear. And for an actor who has played his fair share of violent anti-heroes, as well as a porn star, it may come as a surprise to some to discover that it is his Catholic faith.
Talking to Harry Smith on Today, Wahlberg spoke about the “most important thing” in terms of his daily routine. But he wasn’t talking about working out; the star was in fact referring to his daily prayers. Wahlberg then went on to tell Smith about how this ritual forms an integral part of his life.
Wahlberg appears to take his faith very seriously indeed. The actor said, “I don’t take a day off from getting on my hands and my knees and reading my prayer book and my daily devotionals and, first of all, expressing the gratitude that I have for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.”
The actor then elaborated on what he prays about specifically. He said, “And then, of course, [I ask] for the strength and guidance to be able to use the talents and gifts that God’s given me to help others and inspire and know what right is and to do so… to be the best husband I can be, [and the] best father I can be.”
Smith subsequently asked Wahlberg how long the star spends completing his prayers each day, and the answer was revealing. He responded, “I meet people along the way, and I add people to my prayers. If I see somebody in the public eye, or I read in the newspaper [about] somebody [who’s] struggling… I add them to my prayers, and I usually ended up keeping them in my prayers. So, it’s now 20 minutes of praying – actual praying – and then my reading and stuff like that.”
A memorable event in Wahlberg’s life was sharing a stage with Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia in 2015. And he later reportedly called the event “very, very, very special.” The actor apparently told the audience, “I’ve always hoped that the good Lord has a sense of humor when it comes and pertains to many of the movies that I’ve made.”
In an interview with Adweek, Wahlberg spoke more about the experience of meeting Pope Francis. He told the publication, “I’ve been around presidents and everybody else, and there’s never been so many people from so many walks of life so excited to just get a glimpse of somebody. It was really amazing.”
Elsewhere, in the Today interview Wahlberg admitted that there are those who he openly shares his faith with, while there are others with whom he might not. But there is one thing he will never deny. The star revealed, “Look, I will not hide the fact that I love the Lord and I want to be committed to serving [Him], but I also don’t jam it down anybody’s throat.”
Wahlberg continued on the theme of his religion and revealed that – despite his reluctance to share with everyone – he never hides his faith. The actor went on, “… There are people [who] I’m close to that I will send devotionals to and try to encourage them.”
And Wahlberg has been clear in the past what his success can be attributed to. The star told The Christian Post in 2018, “I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate. And it’s because of the focus that I put on my faith and on my family that have allowed me to accomplish so many things. Also, with the failure and disappointment and loss, life is not easy.”
Because of Wahlberg’s ever-strengthening faith, there are even some previous career choices that the actor seems to regret. He told the Chicago Tribune in 2017, “I just always hope that God is a movie fan and also forgiving, because I’ve made some poor choices in my past.”
Wahlberg was asked if there were any of his movies specifically for which he might ask for forgiveness. And his answer was, in some ways, unsurprising. He told the newspaper, “Boogie Nights is up there at the top of the list.” Of course, it was also Wahlberg’s acclaimed performance as porn star Dirk Diggler which arguably catapulted the actor to leading-man fame.
But is there an element of contradiction between Wahlberg the devout Catholic and some of the characters that he plays? In his interview with The Guardian newspaper, the actor was asked why there is so much fighting in his films – specifically referring to 2020’s Spenser Confidential. Wahlberg responded, “Yeah, he gets beat up a couple of times, but it’s not like he’s beating everybody up. He’s a relatable guy! He’s not some superhuman. [However,] I know there’s a complete difference between what U.K. audiences find or deem violent versus the U.S.”
Wahlberg also owned up to the types of movies that he isn’t comfortable making, telling the British publication, “I’d be into [doing a romcom]. But nothing with singing and dancing in it. I’m not doing a musical. I’ve had to sing and dance more than I’ve wanted to… in films.” He added, “I feel ridiculous when I’m dancing and singing.”
So as we’ve seen, Wahlberg is a complex and interesting individual. Known to millions of film lovers around the globe, the Boston native has a checkered resumé: containing musical and movie success, but also time in a correctional facility. And despite his action-man image and starring turns in films that are not suitable for all the family, there’s definitely another side to this Hollywood star. Indeed, he told The Christian Post, “There’s nothing more important than faith and family.”